While most long-time natives of the Casa Grande/Eloy, Arizona area know who Jimmie Kerr is, and why there’s a road named after him, many of the newcomers to the area have no idea how big a part of the Casa Grande he and his wife, Donna, are.
Jimmie was born in Tucson, but at age 5, he and his father moved to Casa Grande where they lived in town. Jimmie then attended Arizona State Univeristy where he met his future wife, Donna, who was originally from Illinois, and they moved to Casa Grande where they owned and operated a dry cleaning business for 37 years. Donna also worked full-time as an R.N. with the Hoemakao Hospital before the Casa Grande Regional Hospital opened (where Donna also served as the director of Nurses and spent time on the hospital board the year the new hospital was being built). While all of these factoids seem typical of a local family, the main fact that set the Kerrs apart from other families, and the reason why the highway was re-named for him is that Jimmie Kerr has served a total of about 40 years for the city of Casa Grande in a variety of ways.
Starting in 1963, Kerr was first elected as a councilman for 4 years, after which he served two 4-year consecutive terms as town Mayor. However, no man can serve more than two terms as mayor without a break, so Kerr then served on the Board of Supervisors for another 8 years (2 4-year terms) but discovered, with a growing family, he couldn’t afford the politics and pay attention to his loved ones at the same time.
Thus, Kerr focused on his family and his children’s education. However, once his children married and moved out of the house, Kerr once again ran for mayor and served for eight more years, then returned to the board of supervisors and served for 12 more years, finally retiring in January of 2004.
As for the name of the highway, Kerr claims the city snuck behind his back and surprised him with the honor, as a means of thanking him for his dedication to the city and the county. Kerr’s friends continue to jokingly refer to him as “The Boulevard,” a nickname both Jimmie and Donna laugh over. Since his retirement, Jimmie and his wife have focused on his wife’s antique store, Little Barrel Antiques, located directly across the street from City Hall, and have enjoyed visiting with family, however, Jimmie insists that his hobbies aren’t typical; he doesn’t play cards, or golf, but he and his wife are avid ASU fans and go to games often.
As the government has been his hobby for his entire life, it’s difficult to readjust to a slower and relaxed pace of life. As for if he’ll ever re-enter the world of politics, Jimmie insists that he is “on the fence” in a decision to serve for the City Council, but will always have the distinction of being only one of four people who have served a total of 8 years as mayor for Casa Grande—and he’s done that twice, and, according to his proud wife, never lost any of the 14 elections throughout his political career